Last week, we covered how to be a safe cyclist when sharing the road with cars and other motor vehicles. This week, we will look at how drivers can be more mindful of cyclists. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 73 percent of cycling fatalities occur in urban areas, where traffic is more denser and commuters are more likely to travel via bicycle. Because of this, drivers need to learn how to share the road with cyclists. To learn how to be a safe driver around bicycles, read on.
Give Cyclists Space
When driving around cyclists, you need to give them a few feet of space. A few states, including Pennsylvania, have already enacted a law that requires drivers to give bicycles three or four feet of space, including when a driver passes a cyclists on the passenger side. This protects the cyclist from getting too close to a curb or parked vehicle, which could result in an accident. This rule also keeps cyclists from getting startled by a quickly approaching vehicle behind them and passing them.
Don't Honk Your Horn
Another way to ensure that you won't startle cyclists is to not honk your horn. You may feel inclined to honk your horn to announce that you are behind a cyclist or to let them know that you will attempt to pass them. You might also honk because you're frustrated with the cyclist on the road.
Cyclists, however, have the same rights as other motorists and must be treated as so. Startling a cyclist could cause them to lose control of their bicycle and crash. Cyclists may tense up in their neck and shoulders, which impinges their handling of the vehicle. They could also turn to look at whoever honked and not pay attention to the road and upcoming stop signs, traffic lights, potholes, or other impediments.
Know the Rights of Cyclists
In the U.S., bicycles are considered vehicles and are therefore held to the same standards and laws as cars, and should obey all traffic signs and lights. Motorists may be unaware of this and question why bicycles are allowed to ride on the road. By understanding the rights and responsibilities of cyclists, drivers are able to share the road with bicycles in a safe manner.
Always Be Aware
As a driver sharing the road with cyclists, you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Put down your phone for the duration of the drive to limit your distractions. Wireless headsets have also been proven to distract drivers, even though they are hands-free.
Eliminating distractions in the driver's seat will allow you to pay better attention to the road around you. Check behind you and beside you before you make a turn or merge. This is especially important when making a right turn. Familiarize yourself with cycling hand signals. That way, you will know where and when the cyclists are turning and slowing down.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car-bicycle accident, the team at Dugan & Associates is here for you, and we're ready to look at your case. Our team of experienced car accident lawyers will make sure you receive the maximum monetary compensation available to you. Contact us for your free consultation.